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Richard Sala

The Chuckling Whatsit

On sale date: January 17, 2023

The 1997 magnum opus of the late Richard Sala, master of graphic noir, has been out of print for years and is now available in hardcover for the very first time.

Sala weaves the gothic cartooning traditions of Edward Gorey and Charles Addams with a melodramatic murder mystery involving astrology, ghouls, academia, and outsider art. Part noir, part horror, and part comedy, this labyrinthine tale of intrigue follows an unemployed writer named Broom who becomes ensnared unwittingly in a complex plot involving mysterious outsider artist Emile Jarnac, the shadowy machinations of the Ghoul Appreciation Society Headquarters (GASH), and the enigmatic Mr. Ixnay. Sala's deadpan delivery makes this ingeniously layered narrative a roller-coaster ride of darkly pure comic suspense. Sala's drawing style also reveals the influence of everything from Hollywood monster movies and Dick Tracy to German expressionism and Grimm's fairy tales. It's a style that's perfectly suited to the narrative, constantly flirting with Sala's fascination for the grotesque and lending palpable tension to the gruesome riddle of The Chuckling Whatsit.


"Richard Sala was wonderfully unique. It was all there in everything he did, his love of old monster movies, the pulps, mystery and horror in general — the good stuff and the terrible — wore it all like a badge of honor and did wonderful things with it. I miss him." — Mike Mignola

"Recipe for 'The Chuckling Whatsit': 2 oz. wood-ear-mushroom-infused bourbon, 2 oz. brandy, a few of shakes angostura bitters. In memory of an artist of great flourish and influence." — Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket)

"Sala's wildly imaginative storytelling and sly pastiche of lurid pulp material make an appealing mix." — Publishers Weekly

"Sala's parody is so deliciously apt that he doesn't need actual jokes or comedy to be howlingly funny." — Booklist

"This new edition is a welcome reminder that the The Chuckling Whatsit is a timeless and towering achievement of both the spooky thriller genre and of the graphic fiction medium." — The Beat


7.4" × 10.3"